16 June 2010| Lindsay Clark
The newly formed Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG), set up to strip out wasteful government spending, will take control of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) and its procurement agency Buying Solutions.
The move is aimed at tackling the massive public sector deficit and will bring together all cross-government operational functions, including procurement, project management, IT, and civil service workforce and reform functions, according to Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office.
The OGC was created by the Labour government and was formerly an independent office of the Treasury.
The ERG will have a strong mandate to ensure departments work together to tackle waste and improve accountability, the government said. Its performance is set to be overseen by an Efficiency Board, co-chaired by Maude and the chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander. Three senior business leaders, who have all worked in Whitehall, will also sit on the board.
Among them is Sir Peter Gershon, who will lead work looking at procurement issues. “While tackling the budget deficit is a challenge, I am convinced that by bringing experts together and harnessing the talents of the public sector we can start to make improvements immediately,” he said. “We will need to be creative and innovative in order to make a real difference and look at new ways of working.”
Gershon advised the former Labour government on efficiency, and authored the Gershon Review which led to a target being set to achieve 2.5 per cent in annual efficiency savings between 2005 and 2008. He was also the first chief executive of the OGC.
Other key figures in Efficiency and Reform Group include Lucy Neville-Rolfe, who will be looking at workforce issues. She is an executive director of Tesco and a former civil servant. Dr Martin Read, who led the recent review into government back office and IT spending, will be responsible for IT and project management issues. He is a non-executive director of Invensys, Aegis and Lloyd’s of London.